Several times each semester, The Parr Center for Ethics brings a distinguished speaker to campus to lead a discussion about an important ethical issue. A typical Parr Center Presents event lasts for an hour and a half; our guest speaker talks for about 45 minutes and then the audience asks questions in the time remaining. Recent topics of discussion include banking regulations, college athletics, immigration and refugees, and offensive humor.

The Parr Center Presents series is free and open to the public, and we provide pizza for all registered attendees. Please see our schedule for the next event in this series.

 

Abstract

“Most of us would confidently say that lying is wrong—or, at least, that there is something wrong with lying. But what exactly is wrong with it? It turns out to be more difficult than one might have thought to answer this question. I survey some of the obvious potential explanations of the wrongness of lying and suggest that they prove unsatisfying on reflection. I then offer my own proposal for what is wrongful in lying: to lie to someone is to issue a faithless pledge, similar to making an insincere promise.”

Event Powerpoint

About our Speaker

Sarah Stroud works mainly in contemporary analytic moral philosophy.  Her research interests range widely across this terrain but centre on foundational issues in moral psychology and moral theory and on the intersection of such issues with metaethics and with the philosophy of action.  Her current and/or longstanding research interests include lying and testimony, practical irrationality, moral demandingness and overridingness, the ethics of belief, the moral significance of personal relationships, the rights and duties of parents and children, and practical knowledge and expertise.

Other Works with Sarah Stroud

Epistemic Partiality in Friendship

Moral Overridingness and Moral Theory

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What is Wrong with Lying? Maguire Philosophy Lecture with Sarah Stroud 

Event Summary

On Monday, October 30th, Paul Hurley gave a talk centered on how, despite how morality and markets are often portrayed as forces with opposing ends, morality is a necessary component for a well-functioning market. The problem with this perception, he argued, is that it relies on a flawed definition of market actors as ‘selfish’ individuals. In his view, a selfish actor is one that is not interested in the goals of those he interacts with, a definition more closely aligned with Wicksteed’s idea of non-tuism than with what the concept is typically understood. Additionally, he argued that while moral markets suffer from vulnerability to free-riding, immoral markets, which operate on the assumption that other actors will free-ride, will undoubtedly be less efficient than moral ones. Thus, for markets to function efficiently, it is necessary that they have a widely recognized basic level of morality, of moral constraints, more specifically, to function efficiently; even if that makes them vulnerable to free-riding.

Abstract

“There is commonly taken to be a fundamental tension between morality and markets.  The cost-effective, efficient, profit maximizing course of action and the right course of action often diverge, and it is inefficient and costly to do the right thing, placing such actors at a competitive disadvantage.  The suggestion is that markets are spheres that mandate purely self-interested interaction – there is no place for morality within markets. I will argue that such a picture is profoundly and dangerously misleading; indeed, that markets can only function efficiently if morality is integrated into market interactions at the most fundamental level.”

Event Powerpoint

About our Speaker

Paul Hurley conducts most of his research at the interface of normative ethics and metaethics, drawing when appropriate upon related themes in political philosophy, philosophy of law, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of action. Much of his work in normative ethics takes issue with prevailing consequentialist approaches in moral theory. In his book, Beyond Consequentialism, Hurley identifies fundamental tensions within consequentialism, and argues that the resolution of these tensions leads us beyond consequentialism. His recent work argues that allegedly neutral frameworks for debating the merits of alternative moral theories in fact systematically skew the debate in favor of consequentialist alternatives. Properly reframing these debates requires extensive forays into prevailing accounts of reason, desire, value, impartiality, action, and the nature of the interrelationship between reason and morality.  Hurley has developed the relevant arguments in a series of articles and his current goal is to bring these arguments together in a manuscript provisionally (and provocatively) titled The Tyranny of Outcomes.

Other works with Paul Hurley

Why Consequentialism’s ‘Compelling Idea’ Is Not

Beyond Consequentialism

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What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

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Adam Smith’s Dirty Little Secret: The Curiously Intimate Relationship between Markets and Morality

Event Summary

On the 9th of October students and professors greeted each other and passed around pizza in the main lecture hall of UNC’s philosophy department while eagerly waiting for Professor Laurie Shrage to give her talk “Contract Sex: Decriminalization vs. Legalization.”  When it came time for Professor Shrage to begin the hall was filled to the brim as all of the seats were taken and those who were just arriving were forced to stand in the back and even out the door.  As the name implied the talk was on what Professor Shrage calls “contract sex,” meaning sex done under agreement by individuals in a business-like, or formal, manner. Sex workers and contract sex are found in many different countries and can come in various forms and degrees. This idea of contract sex has been a pressing social issue on an international scale and is legal in some countries. During her talk, Professor Shrage advocated for the decriminalization of sex work over the legalization of sex work as she finds criminalizing sex work is disproportionately monitored in lower-income and minority neighborhoods. According to Professor Shrage, the criminalization of sex workers is founded on a basis of social stigma, rather than on actual legal fundamentals. In her talk, Shrage compared the process of decriminalizing contract sex to the process to legalize marijuana in the US. The process towards decriminalization will have to be done overtime and in consistent steps, without ignoring the fact that actions like trafficking and abuse should be criminalized, voiced Professor Shrage.  To conclude, Shrage advocated education about human and civil rights abuse that occurs when (informal) contractual sex acts are a criminal defense and voiced the needs for a plan of legalization after decriminalization.

Abstract
“Why are sex worker rights groups advocating for decriminalizing sex work, but not for legalizing it? In this paper, I will explain why efforts to decriminalize sex work deserve the same support as efforts to decriminalize abortion, marijuana, or non-procreational sex. Many human rights advocates now recognize that decriminalizing sexual transactions which take place among consenting adults in private, including informally contracting for sexual services, is necessary for protecting our fundamental human and civil rights. Yet decriminalizing individual acts of prostitution opens the door to various kinds of organized and public market activities, and there is little consensus among progressive reformers about how wide this door should be pushed opened. A consensus has been forming, nevertheless, among sex worker rights organizations. These groups generally hold that regulatory restrictions specific to sex work (“legalization”), which limit where and how contracting for sexual services can take place, leads to practices that are punitive toward sex workers in ways similar to criminalization. In this paper, I will consider the arguments for decriminalization and against legalization, and argue that accepting levels of governmental oversight above the norm may be a necessary compromise in order to change policies regarding a controversial activity.”

Event Powerpoint

Interview between Parr Center Undergraduate Fellow, Jordan Lummus, and Professor Laurie Shrage.

 

About our Speaker

Laurie Shrage is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Florida International University, where she teaches courses including Philosophy and Feminism and Miami Vice or Virtue: Climate Change and Social Ethics. Shrage has authored the books Philosophy About Sex, Abortion and Social Responsibility: Depolarized the Debate and Moral Dilemmas of Feminism: Prostitution, Adultery, and Abortion. Shrage’s research focuses on the politics of abortion and legal gender identity, marriage and feminism.

Other Works with Laurie Shrage:

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